Diversity in tech starts with the kids, and other lessons from Introduced by Technical.ly - Generocity Philly

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May 7, 2018 10:03 am

Diversity in tech starts with the kids, and other lessons from Introduced by Technical.ly

One way to increase representation means “locating mentors and instructors that look like our children” — and other takeaways from the #PTW18 event's Impact room.

Introduced's "Building a Talent Pipeline" panel in 2018.

(Photo by Julie Zeglen)

The word “diversity” can sometimes seem a catchall for the solution to any company’s hiring needs, or the sole path to ethical improvement.

The speakers featured in the Generocity-curated Impact room of Philly Tech Week’s brand new Introduced by Technical.ly conference had a lot to say throughout the day about the importance of varied (and genuine) experience cornucopias within every professional organization.

(See the full list of superstar speakers and panel titles here.)

It starts with the kids

Reflecting on a Coded by Kids workshop he observed a few months ago at Thomas Edison High School, founder and CEO Sylvester Mobley said during his “School Doesn’t Suck: 3 Ways Classrooms are Changing” lightning talk that when the students at the workshop were asked what career path they wanted to follow, most of the girls said they wanted to be hairdressers, while the boys said they wanted to be auto repairmen.

In their immediate environments, the people who look like them or who they know personally mainly do these jobs. Mobley said that his company’s ethos of measuring success by “creating a whole generation of employers, not employees” means “locating mentors and instructors that look like our children.”

Nate Nichols, founder of the Palette Group, said during the “Equity in Tech: Ensuring Everyone Wins, Online and Off” panel that, due to his difficult childhood in the foster care system, the need to compel diversity is in his DNA. He recalled his search for family connections outside of his nuclear home, yielding a plethora of relationships with people from all walks of life within his own neighborhood. Because of his upbringing, he said, he was “always looking to unite people on values.”

Practicality

Neha Agarwal, senior experience designer at Think Company, said during the “Equity in Tech” panel that leadership at Think actively asks how can the company can be more diverse and inclusive and converses with their employees about the topic mainly because they know it creates better work.

Translator founder and CEO Natalie Egan noted during the “Company Responsibility: #MeToo, Black Lives matter and Polarization” panel that although studies show more diverse teams tend to produce results at a slower rate, they consistently produce better results and make better decisions than their less diverse counterparts.

And according to Uva Coles, VP of institutional advancement and strategic partnerships at Peirce College, a company must “be willing to engage with the inherent conflict that comes from gathering people from multiple experiences and backgrounds,” she said during the “Building a Talent Pipeline: Where Community Interests Meet Hiring Needs” panel.

Measurable results

“Metrics are the key to ensure diversity,” said Karissa Justice, manager of people operations for Azavea, during the “Building a Talent Pipeline” panel. It’s all well and good to throw the word around in meetings and add to it company retreat titles, but how are consumers and employees concretely holding company’s accountable.

“We can’t just say we’re committed to diversity and inclusion,” said Digitability founder and CEO Michele McKeone, during the “Equity in Tech” panel. “What’s the baseline to measure that, and what’s the rate of achievement?”

“Equity in Tech.” (Photo by Ebonee Johnson)

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